Leo turns 4 on Monday. Four! I simply feel at a loss for where those years have gone but then I think back over them and I think about how much he’s grown, how much we’ve shared together and mainly how much he’s changed. He is a massive bundle of fun and energy, he has a very silly sense of humour and he is the most loving and caring big brother that Tayo could ever wish for. He is my absolute love. We are so similar that at times we clash, neither of us are any good when we’re tired but we have an understanding. One that I don’t think I’ll ever share with anyone else. So with it being his birthday I thought it was about time I shared his birth story with you! I’m surprised how much I remember 4 years on but apparently it’s an experience you never forget.

I had such a fantastic pregnancy with Leo. I really enjoyed the whole process. Sure I had a bit of, at times, crippling pelvic pain, but aside from that it was all very plain sailing.

I got to 41 weeks and 1 day, the day before I was due to be induced. I remember being in my apartment and feeling that first twinge. My first contraction, 2pm Tuesday afternoon. I got out the TENS machine that I’d borrowed from a friend and to be honest, that made me feel a bit worse… What a strange sensation.

Skip forward 10 hours to midnight and after a couple of calls to the hospital we decided to make our way in. We used an app to monitor the contractions and they were getting closer together and to the stage where actually they were fairly strong and it may not have been long until I needed some pain relief or certainly more than paracetamol and that strange Tens sensation.

We arrived at hospital and I remember the delivery suite being so quiet there was only me and one other woman there and she was currently giving birth to her fifth baby in the birthing pool next door.

I was directed to a room with a bath, I promptly filled it up and got in. I got that feeling I get when in a Spa. What should I be doing? Why was it so quiet? Ergh, get me out the bath so I can just walk around and chat and not feel completely odd and uncomfortable. So back to my room I went after a brief bath and the lady in the birthing pool had had her baby and now it was my turn.

My aim all throughout my pregnancy was to have a water birth, I couldn’t think of anything better so I was so excited to get in there and get this baby out. My midwife examined me and a I was a few centimetres dilated. She was very confident that I would deliver my baby before the end of her shift at 7am. Yes… Let’s do this. By now it was somewhere between 3 and 4 in the morning.

I got in the pool and all was fine for a little while. I was examined and I was at about 6 cm. Then my contractions got really, really bad. They were pretty much back to back and I couldn’t get comfortable. I didn’t know how to ‘be’ in the bath. The only thing that felt comfortable was when I was on my knees but then I just wanted to bear down and I knew that it was too soon to be doing any pushing. I’d been sucking on the gas and air now pretty much the whole time I was in there which in the end was for somewhere between 2 and 3 hours. I remember feeling completely out of it, so much so I was pretty sure at one point that my dog was in the room and I know I told Anthony that I was going to die. Dramatic much. There was a lot of shouting on my part. How embarrassing, but these back to back contractions felt like they were literally splitting my whole body in two. My Midwife was encouraging, she told me to just take each contraction on its own and not think about the next one to come but I couldn’t focus on anything at all, I was too busy slipping all over the place and I just needed out.

So around 6 am I’d had enough and I asked to get out and to get some more pain relief. I stepped out of the pool, patted myself down some and then fell over. Great. I stood back up and my waters broke! They got me in a wheelchair and got me to a delivery room. Once there I was examined. Turns out the whole time I was in the pool I’d not dilated any further. What?! After all of that pain I was no further along!? Decision made. Get me an epidural.

“Babe, you told me that if you asked for an epidural I should question you because you really don’t want to have one if you can help it.”

I was really glad Anthony reminded me of our conversation about what I wanted at the birth. I was so keen to deliver without an epidural if I could. I wanted the full experience. I wanted to know what it was like. But I was at that point where I’d now been having contractions for 16 hours and I wasn’t sure I could handle much more. So the Doctors arranged an epidural and you know what, that was just fine. It was what I needed even if it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted.

So now I was pretty much numb and things really slowed down. I had a new midwife. She was newly qualified and actually extremely irritating. I was really up for having her look after me – everyone has to start somewhere but she spoke everything out loud. Everything. From ‘hmm, there shouldn’t be a bubble in that tube… I wonder why there’s one there?’ to ‘Now how does this work, this knob, oh no, not that one…’. Honestly. I was getting so frustrated and I felt like she didn’t know what she was doing, if only she could keep her thoughts inside her head. She was with me for most of the rest of my labour but luckily she seemed to find her feet part way through and stopped narrating her every move.

Leo was assessed at this point, they made a tiny little scratch on his head to check his oxygen levels. We didn’t know we were having a boy and the doctor said “Oh wow, this little baby has a head full of hair!” Gosh I was SO excited and knowing that little fact about my new baby somehow made me re focus and get myself back in the game. I was exhausted and fed up and the end seemed far out of sight but I bought it back into view and started to get excited about meeting this little one sooner now, rather than later.

The process then started to feel a bit tricky. I had a consultant and a registrar and everyone was saying different things. I was dilating extremely slowly. I had my epidural at around 8am, it would be a further 12 hours until Leo made his appearance. I was kept nil by mouth in case there was a need for a c section and just after lunch time the registrar (or maybe the consultant…. I sort of didn’t know who was who at that point) told me that if he hadn’t arrived by 4 o’clock I would be having a c-section. 4 o’clock came and went, I was still on my bed with no baby, I was barely any further along in my dilation. In comes the registrar who decides that I’m ok, I don’t need to go for a c-section and once I was fully dilated I’d be allowed to push for an hour, should he still not be here by then, then I would go for a c-section.

Finally things started to get moving again and at around 5pm my contractions were back. It’s a strange sensation knowing that you’re contracting but not being able to feel it. I had to rely on the monitor to show me when I was contracting, I was examined and I was about 9 and a half cm. Nine and a half!? Was that a joke? So I still couldn’t push but within half an hour I was there, the whole 10 centimetres! So I pushed. And I pushed. And I pushed some more. After I’d spent my allocated hour of pushing I was told that actually, I could go another half an hour.

And he wouldn’t come. He came down and went back up again. Why would that hairy little head not just come out?! It was decided that he would be delivered using forceps. I was told that usually you would be transferred to theatre but because everywhere was so quiet I was allowed to stay in my nice room. Up came the stirrups and the introduction of the word episiotomy. So I was cut and out came the massive salad tongs! So all that was left for me to do was another few pushes and for the Doctor to pull and WOW did he pull. I have never seen anything like it. The force with which he had to pull was quite incredible. But then that was it.

“It has your ears!” Anthony said once his head was out and his body closely followed and our beautiful baby boy was here with the biggest purple hands I’d ever seen, covered in hair and crying. He was placed in my arms after a quick check over and he opened his eyes.

He was here, all 8lb 14oz of him at 19:58, 30 hours after my first contraction. And worth every second of it.